In probably less that two month's time Japan will hold its triannual House of Councillor's election. The election will be for half of the House, 121 out of 242 seats. The actual date of the 2010 elections has not been finalized. However, most reporting puts the date to be July 11.
The law holds that the election must be held within 30 days prior to the end of the six year terms of those currently in office. However, if the Diet is in session, or was in session less than 24 days ago, then the election must held off until the 24th day after the end of the Diet session. It can be held at any time within a 30 span starting from the 24th day on.
The House of Councillors election for the seats up for election this year was held on July 11, 2004, with the terms in office for those currently holding these seats beginning the next day, July 12, 2004. If the Diet were not in session, the House of Councillors election could be held as early as June 13, which is the earliest Sunday within 30 days prior to July 12.
However, the Diet is in its 150 day regular session, which will end on June 16. Unless the Diet session is extended, the earliest an election can be held is July 11, the first Sunday after the 23 day-long quarantine period ends. The election can, according to the law, be held anytime up to 30 days after the 23 day period ends.
However, the Sundays falling after July 11 are problematic ones for the ruling coalition. The first, July 18, is in the middle of a three day weekend. Nothing would anger the electorate more than an election in the middle of a vacation period. Holding the election on July 25 is a possibility, but that is already after the schools will be closing for summer break and when the citizens start dispersing for the summer. The print and broadcast media would strongly criticize the ruling coalition for regressing into the election date selection shenanigans the Liberal Democratic Party used to employ in order to suppress turnout.
An election on a Sunday in August? Not likely. It is too damn hot to campaign and too many voters are away from their voting districts, especially during Obon.
A July 11 date could be become moot if the ruling parties agree to an extension of the current Diet session. However, news reports say that the parties have agreed to not extend the session, as they have no pressing business to conduct. Indeed, many House of Councillors members are already in full campaign mode. Nearly 50 of them were absent from the Diet's regular plenary session on Friday.
All indications that the Diet session will wrap up its business on time, the formal announcements of the candidates eligible for office will be made on June 24 and the election will be held on July 11.
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